No More Torture for Splinter Cell: Blacklist

FoolKiller

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Sam Fisher has always had the option to torture/use coercion to get information. That is what makes him a splinter cell. He can do whatever he feels he needs to do to extract information from the bad guys. This just seems like another step back for the series in its continuing deterioration towards mindless 3rd person action game.

To play devil's advocate: he tortured in Conviction since he was on a mission to get his daughter back. Anyone would go to that length (if they could) to get their child home safely.
 

Zing

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Who cares. They destroyed Splinter Cell with conviction. It's now an "action 3rd person shooter" with watered down, non-innovative "stealth", emphasis on the quotation here, gameplay.
 

Anti-American Eagle

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But you could torture people in conviction and nobody had a problem with it then... has so much changed since then?
Are they really saying Sam suddenly isn't into torturing people for intel?
In fact I think he'd find it hilarious to see bad people suffer.

Captcha: that escalated quickly
 

WindKnight

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TheRussian said:
cobra_ky said:
Whether the use of torture was optional or not is irrelevant. The issue is propagating the lie that torture is effective and justifiable tactic.
You know, as a story device it can be used, to demonstrate the unreliability of the extracted information. Say Fisher interrogates tortures some NPC, and the information is not only inaccurate, but sends Fisher on a wild goose chase that eventually results in serious consequences for Fisher. In this context, torture is a narrative tool for the writer. So in a meta-textual sense, it can work.
the primary problems were -

(1) the torture was interactive. a little 'rotate your thumbstick' prompt comes up, and yes, its the player doing the torturing

(2) once the guy your torturing passes out, the game presents you a moral choice over whether or not to kill them.

you the player, have just tortured someone, and the game is saying 'yeah, we're only going to judge you a Bad Person if you shoot this unconscious, defenseless person. That torture was totally ok.'
 

ShirowShirow

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This was probably a good call. I'm not a fan of Splinter Cell, but if I was encouraged to twist a knife into a helpless prisoner in, say, Metal Gear Solid I'd be pretty damn disgusted. That's the sort of things you see villains do so you know it's OK to murderize the shit out of them.

There are things that you just shouldn't do.
 

1337mokro

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Balkan said:
Imagine if the white phosphore scene was removed from Spec Ops. No one "loved" the scene, but it was a part of what made the game so interesting.
So, if the torture scenes were part of the context of blacklist, than removing them would leave an empty space. The other option is that the scenes were there to be enjoyable, and since they aren't, removing them wouldn't effect the product.
Time will tell.
What did the white phosphorus scene have as intention though?

Discomfort, realization that you had done something terrible.

Now did it have that effect? Not really because it is a forced sequence and so you are basically absolved of the entire feeling of guilt because the game strong armed you into doing it. However the resulting feelings and the intent are the same. You are supposed to not feel good.

Now what is the intent of the torture scene? Suspense and thrill.

Not really the same thing right? They actually did have a torture scene in Spec Ops to. It was short but it wasn't offensive you know why? Because the depiction of that torture wasn't the same. It was a man wanting information and a man who had information whilst you stood by the sideline unable to interfere or change his faith.

It wasn't about the torture it was about the inability to save the man.

In Splinter Cell it is about sticking knives in brown people because they are the bad guys. Did Sam Fisher employ these methods when fucking Japan was planning a world invasion? No. He snuck in the shadows and got his information from hacking computers, use of an intensive network of intelligence and of course little snippets of conversation between guards.

So on the brink of a world war he didn't resort to torture, but now all of a sudden you are telling me he has to? He is unable to use spydrones, wiretapping, regular old infiltration, spies, tracking devices, regular old searching through documents, eavesdropping etc. Which are also all much more reliable methods than torture.

The first thing I expect from a terrorist leader who is zealously religious when tortured is False information and that is what he got! The entire torture was POINTLESS! It had no emotional weight and the entire thing was basically Sam getting off on his anger and venting it.


Now on Ubisoft retracting the scene though. Why? Because people whines about it? Fucking seriously? If you want to put that torture scene in there, put that fucking torture scene in there. It's nothing but cheap exploitation but it is YOUR cheap exploitation of violence. If you think that the story benefits from it then leave it in. Why did you put it there in the first place if it wasn't a part of the story or character arc?
 

redknightalex

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Unless I'm mistaken from years of not playing the games, didn't Sam Fisher "extract" information from NPCs at gunpoint to further his objective? I'm finding it hard to believe that stabbing someone with a knife is worse than holding a gun to someone's head, with the option to shoot this NPC afterward, for information.

This sounds like politics getting its dirty hands into the video game industry yet again. If we don't want to touch these issue because the might be "too sensitive" then I worry about where this industry is going and if we'll ever evolve as a format. For crying out loud, Harry Potter gets tortured in a children's book, not even for information, and still no one seems to care! Oh well, lets all be hypocrites.
 

Stu35

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FelixG said:
The Gentleman said:
Rogue 09 said:
Yeah, torture is ugly and gritty, and it most definitely works. To be cowed out of something realistic in a game because "teh internets" have a problem show an amazing lack of spine for the developer.
No, it doesn't work [http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/nov/04/2], and Sam Fisher is the exact kind of operative who would know it doesn't work.
Basically what the article says is TL;DR there is no way to be conclusive one way or the other regarding torture as all we have to go on are peoples stories, as no one has actually done any kind of study on it.
And that's by the guardian. Who are the most left wing of all British broadsheets.


I'm not going to weigh in on whether or not I think torture works(In fact, fuck it, I will: I don't think physical torture does, and we have some far better psychological means of getting information in this day and age that don't leave a single physical mark on the individual... But that's by the by), but I don't think that we should be doing it in the civilised world - it's one of the things we need to keep the moral high ground over the Insurgents in the various countries we're fighting.

Same way that when one of our own desecrates and enemy body, we come down hard on it - Some of us may sympathise with the blokes who did it, given the circumstances, and knowing the emotions involved, but the fact is we have to be whiter than white in order to maintain credibility in a western world that turns its nose up at anything it finds distasteful, and won't hesitate to jump on any excuse they can to show-up organisations they don't agree with (and the media being the mercenary bastards they are will jump on any story that sells papers/gets clicks/whatever).

So, yes, it's effectiveness is, ultimately irrelevant in this day and age - it's inhumane, and our own lads shouldn't be doing it.


Now that I've veered off topic, I'm going to come back on and say that removing a scene like this from a game to avoid offence is about par for course these days - Companies don't actually care if what they make is offensive (and rightly so), however they have shown time and again that as soon as they come up against any kind of media storm that might hurt sales they will back down.

So, had they not shown that scene at E3, and had no one drawn attention to it, they'd undoubtedly have kept it in - however the power of the complainer these days is strong to the point that even a few indignant mothers screaming "think of the children" will get a company grovelling for forgiveness over a torture scene, even as they continue to sell a game in which the main character's job is to close with and kill an unsuspecting enemy in a fashion that would probably break the average person who had to do it (although I can't exactly speak from experience on that one).
 

ShirowShirow

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redknightalex said:
Unless I'm mistaken from years of not playing the games, didn't Sam Fisher "extract" information from NPCs at gunpoint to further his objective? I'm finding it hard to believe that stabbing someone with a knife is worse than holding a gun to someone's head, with the option to shoot this NPC afterward, for information.

This sounds like politics getting its dirty hands into the video game industry yet again. If we don't want to touch these issue because the might be "too sensitive" then I worry about where this industry is going and if we'll ever evolve as a format. For crying out loud, Harry Potter gets tortured in a children's book, not even for information, and still no one seems to care! Oh well, lets all be hypocrites.
I'm not up and up on the history of Splinter Cell, but remember that Harry Potter getting tortured was supposed to be a BAD thing that the BAD GUYS did. Harry Potter DOES actually let his emotions run wild at a point and try to use a pain curse at one point, but it's specifically pointed out that he's actually too good a person to actually go through with it so the curse fizzles.

It's not about showing torture. It's about showing torture in a positive light.
 

Riobux

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Why was this removed? It's fair enough that it's uncomfortable, but games shouldn't automatically be promoting an image of fun and happiness. Sometimes grim shit occurs, and it only serves to illustrate a point. See Spec Ops: The Line for more information.
 

Scorpid

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1337mokro said:
Balkan said:
Imagine if the white phosphore scene was removed from Spec Ops. No one "loved" the scene, but it was a part of what made the game so interesting.
So, if the torture scenes were part of the context of blacklist, than removing them would leave an empty space. The other option is that the scenes were there to be enjoyable, and since they aren't, removing them wouldn't effect the product.
Time will tell.
What did the white phosphorus scene have as intention though?

Discomfort, realization that you had done something terrible.

Now did it have that effect? Not really because it is a forced sequence and so you are basically absolved of the entire feeling of guilt because the game strong armed you into doing it. However the resulting feelings and the intent are the same. You are supposed to not feel good.

Now what is the intent of the torture scene? Suspense and thrill.

Not really the same thing right? They actually did have a torture scene in Spec Ops to. It was short but it wasn't offensive you know why? Because the depiction of that torture wasn't the same. It was a man wanting information and a man who had information whilst you stood by the sideline unable to interfere or change his faith.

It wasn't about the torture it was about the inability to save the man.

In Splinter Cell it is about sticking knives in brown people because they are the bad guys. Did Sam Fisher employ these methods when fucking Japan was planning a world invasion? No. He snuck in the shadows and got his information from hacking computers, use of an intensive network of intelligence and of course little snippets of conversation between guards.

So on the brink of a world war he didn't resort to torture, but now all of a sudden you are telling me he has to? He is unable to use spydrones, wiretapping, regular old infiltration, spies, tracking devices, regular old searching through documents, eavesdropping etc. Which are also all much more reliable methods than torture.

The first thing I expect from a terrorist leader who is zealously religious when tortured is False information and that is what he got! The entire torture was POINTLESS! It had no emotional weight and the entire thing was basically Sam getting off on his anger and venting it.


Now on Ubisoft retracting the scene though. Why? Because people whines about it? Fucking seriously? If you want to put that torture scene in there, put that fucking torture scene in there. It's nothing but cheap exploitation but it is YOUR cheap exploitation of violence. If you think that the story benefits from it then leave it in. Why did you put it there in the first place if it wasn't a part of the story or character arc?
Thank you! These violence for the sake of violence loonies are losing their minds here but when Lara Croft gets threatened with rape they threw up their hands saying "Lordy save us from the sadistic exploitative developers", which actually made complete sense in context of the trailer.
Now a developer is saying that they're removing something they feel is needless and exploitative from the game and people are decrying them as 'balless'. What a bunch creepy mother fuckers... Go watch Saw or Hostel if you people feel the need to watch a human being suffer for your amusement without any real context.
 

redknightalex

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ShirowShirow said:
redknightalex said:
Unless I'm mistaken from years of not playing the games, didn't Sam Fisher "extract" information from NPCs at gunpoint to further his objective? I'm finding it hard to believe that stabbing someone with a knife is worse than holding a gun to someone's head, with the option to shoot this NPC afterward, for information.

This sounds like politics getting its dirty hands into the video game industry yet again. If we don't want to touch these issue because the might be "too sensitive" then I worry about where this industry is going and if we'll ever evolve as a format. For crying out loud, Harry Potter gets tortured in a children's book, not even for information, and still no one seems to care! Oh well, lets all be hypocrites.
I'm not up and up on the history of Splinter Cell, but remember that Harry Potter getting tortured was supposed to be a BAD thing that the BAD GUYS did. Harry Potter DOES actually let his emotions run wild at a point and try to use a pain curse at one point, but it's specifically pointed out that he's actually too good a person to actually go through with it so the curse fizzles.

It's not about showing torture. It's about showing torture in a positive light.
True. I was thinking more along the lines that torture is torture, regardless of who uses it and for what purposes. Even the exposure to it, which happened to be in a children's book, was never thought of as a bad thing. I'll freely admit that when I read those scenes I was a little bothered by it, so what were kids thinking? Sure, the good guys can be pure and the bad guys using torture everywhere, yet that doesn't stop the kids, or whomever, from reading it and having a reaction to it. Is there that much of a difference of who uses it when you read about it? I'd argue that it would be worse to have it be done to someone you identify with, like Harry, than commit it virtually.

Plus, Sam Fisher a "good" guy? I always thought of him as a morally ambiguous one.
 

Suave Charlie

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Rogue 09 said:
The whole reason torture was stopped was because nobody wanted their own group tortured. So we made a deal: We're all civilized, so if you don't torture our people we won't torture your people. All nice and happy, good rule o' war.

The terrorists in the middle east don't follow any rules at all. They dress as civilians during firefights, target civilians and children purposefully, and torture and murder any soldiers they capture. As of right now, there is nothing to dissuade them from these practices, because we don't do the same.

Before people can understand civility, they need to understand how bad bad can get.

That, and it absolutely does work. I've never seen any article that looks at it in purely scientific light, it's always about an agenda. I could make nearly anyone spill any secrets they've got eventually, and I have absolutely no training at all. A true professional could pull detailed information in a very short period of time.

It's all about getting someone to break. Some people may be able to hold out for a little while... but eventually everybody breaks. These coward terrorists are no different.
So your argument is to drop down to their level and use barbaric acts of violence that haven't proved one way or another whether they yield useful intelligence?

Classy as balls.
That, and it absolutely does work.
Citation neede-
I've never seen any article that looks at it in purely scientific light
OH WAIT.

Yeah I'm sure you could "break" people, get them to confess to things they've done, probably also get them to confess to killing Jesus if they think it'll stop the torture.
 

mateushac

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redknightalex said:
ShirowShirow said:
redknightalex said:
snip
Plus, Sam Fisher a "good" guy? I always thought of him as a morally ambiguous one.
That's pretty much my point of view too. Why must every protagonist always be the good guy?
I can't help but feel a little awkward when people expect me to see a guy who's been trained to kill people with his bare hands as the good guy. Sure, he is American (which seems to be enough for you to be the hero nowadays) and he has a child, but if you want to portray him as the guy who's doing the right thing, you should probably be making a game about doing charity instead of performing military ops.

You see... Playable characters ARE NOT the player him/herself. It's okay for them to do bad stuff once in a while, and that doesn't mean the artist is trying to pass his bad deeds as positive. Sometimes writers just want to expose the grimmer side of things (eg. Fisher's immense commitment to achieving his goals sometimes has him doing large atrocities, such as torturing people).

Actually, if the torture is, by any chance related to the story's development (Which it must be. Why else would you write something into the plot if it doesn't contibute to the overall narrative or exposition?), then I think it's the right way to go about advancing videogames as a narrative medium.

Much of the same thing happens with Tomb Raider's rape scene. The developers probably just wanted to point their view on Lara's character: They wanted to show us that, in their interpretation of the character, she's not a born badass. She gradually grew such a hard shell in consequence of all of the bad stuff she had to come through in order to survive.

I'd also like to take this opportunity and give a shout out to all the developers out there who are giving in to those stupid demands: "If you believe what you're doing is art, defend it as the art that it is!"
 

JWAN

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LysanderNemoinis said:
Breaking news: French owned studio surrenders. In other news: Grass still green.
Lol, this is the first thing I thought of too.
It reminds me of ET when they re-released it and took out the guns. South Park did a great jab at that where a newscaster announced the re-release of ET without the guns and also "saving private ryan" where they again replaced all the guns with walkie talkies.
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ON ANOTHER TANGENT:
The more oversensitive we as a culture become, the weaker we become. Just think of it. How many times throughout the day do you have to stop and think about what you said just because you are afraid that you just accidentally offended someone? Maybe everyone should just suck it up, accept that everyone has different opinions, cultures, religious beliefs and not worry about stepping on toes and not OVERREACTING when someone does accidentally (in that case the person doesn't deserve the crazed reaction OR purposely where the person meant to be an offensive asshole to grab attention and the reaction from the general public gave the jackass just what they wanted). Shit happens, life moves on. For me this is still a video game, I saw the torture scene in Lethal Weapon and I still haven't tried to torture anyone (as of yet, I'll keep everyone here in the loop). Also I just watched The Godfather the other day and I didn't start up my own Sicilian crime syndicate and last week I listened to an Elvis song and I repressed the urge to waggle my hips and wear blue suede shoes. Am I saying throw sensitivity out the door? No, no I am not. I am saying being oversensitive is the issue here. The more people try to bury issues with large amounts of sensitivity the larger the issues become because now they are being built up through repression instead of being explored and dismantled through discussion and debate.